6 Keys to Successful Lead Nurturing

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This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation” blog series.

Lead nurturing is the process of guiding people through the inbound marketing framework–attracting visitors to your website with SEO; converting anonymous visitors to leads with helpful, high-quality content; and closing leads to customers by convincing them that you have the right solution for them.

Sounds easy, right? Well, of course, the devil is in the details. When people jump online to search for solutions to their personal and business problems, there are thousands of ads and links vying for their clicks and everything in the lead nurturing process, from getting found in the first place to someone clicking the “buy now” button is highly competitive.

Here are 6 keys to success at lead nurturing.

  1. Buyer Personas. It all starts here. Understanding your ideal customer is critical to shaping a lead nurturing program that will move them through the sales funnel from start to finish. Perhaps the most important piece of the buyer persona puzzle is understanding the pain points that drive your best customers to search in the first place. We worked with a contract medical device manufacturer that provided outsourced manufacturing services for big medical device companies. There are hundreds of these companies. So what made this company stand out? After interviewing the staff and customers it became clear–customers chose this company when they had new, sophisticated implantable devices that no one else could figure out how to manufacture at scale. The pain point was the frustration the OEMs had a great idea that no one could make. This allowed us to focus on a) implantable device makers within the vast universe medical devices; and b) companies making sophisticated new products that hadn’t yet been mass produced.
  2. Buyer’s Journey. Once you have identified your ideal customer, it is important to understand how they interact with buyers and what they go through before deciding to make a purchase–the buyer’s journey. The classic buyer’s journey in the age of online marketing is divided into three stages: awareness; consideration, and decision. In the awareness phase, the buyer has discovered a personal or business and problem and turned to the web to find possible solutions. In the consideration phase, the buyer has confirmed that the problem is real and that solutions exist, and will explore different options. In the decision phase, the buyer is ready to buy once convinced that he or she has found the right solution.Understanding how, where, when, and why your buyer personas discover and consume information and content through these stages are critical to creating offers that mechanisms that will nurture them from one stage of the journey to the next.
  3. Serious SEO. The first stage of the inbound framework is attract. In order to attract people to your website, it has to be optimized around the search terms people actually use when looking for the solution you provide. Many companies falter here–they optimize around their product name or product category when that may not be what people actually enter when they look for help. For example, if the company in the example above optimized around “contract medical device manufacturer” they would likely miss searches for the more challenging parts of manufacturing sophisticated implantable medical devices. But people probably don’t search for “sophisticated implantable medical device manufacturer.” We found that instead, they search for the more difficult aspects of manufacturing these devices, and content around terms like “hermetic sealing” and “packaging and sterilization” around these types of devices were often a starting point for search.
  4. Awesome Content. Many have noted that it is no longer enough to have “good unique content” in order to convert visitors to leads. You have to have exceptional content to rank in Google. Exceptional content is the content people choose over and over again–usually because it answers pressing questions. This is especially true in very specialized B2B environments–like medical device manufacturing–where you’re dealing with highly educated people that know their business very well. You have to be able to tell them something that helps them do their jobs, which often involves telling them something they didn’t know. This is easy if you have some new technology that no one knows about and you can frame it without being promotional and “salesy.”
  5. Great Workflows. Following up on leads, qualifying, scoring and segmenting is hard. It’s nearly impossible to do manually (unless you get very few leads!). Automated workflows simplify this and make lead nurturing more personal and more measurable. Workflows are all about delivering the right offer to the right people at the right time. Good workflows depend on good qualification–you have to know where people are in the sales cycle in order to craft the next step for them. This in-turn requires content and offers carefully aligned with an inbound strategy so that you can know when someone is in the awareness, consideration, or decision stage and follow up accordingly. One firm’s research found that only 27 percent of leads are contacted at all, and that for most businesses, it is possible to reach 92 percent of leads.
  6. Segment and Score. Segmenting and scoring are critical to great workflows and getting the right offer to the right person at the right time. If you have a marketing automation platform like HubSpot or Marketo that offers segmentation and scoring, use it! It can be tedious to set up–you have to associate every action and every characteristic of your contacts with a value. But this is what enables you to know who is visiting your site, what they are looking for, and how to respond to them. Too many companies push all leads into one giant bucket and then wonder why they quickly opt out of communication (hint: it’s because they are sending them information that is not relevant to them or to where they are in the buyer’s journey).

A study by DemandGen found that 67 percent of B2B marketers said they see at least a 10 percent increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15 percent seeing opportunities increase by 30 percent or more. If you’re not following up on leads and nurturing them using these five keys, you’re likely leaving money on the table.

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation” blog series.

Bill Peatman

About Bill Peatman

Bill is the Senior Writer and Content Developer here at Alaniz. He has more than 20 years of marketing experience and has worked for successful startups and well-known brands such as Cisco and Brown and Caldwell. Bill is a graduate of Stanford University, and has an MA from Santa Clara University.

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